Jose Mourinho is not expecting anybody to join Manchester United before the transfer deadline.
Last season may have been their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, but the 19-point gap to runaway Premier League champions Manchester City underlined the improvements required.
Fred, Diogo Dalot and Lee Grant all arrived at united by early July, but nobody has followed despite Mourinho’s explicit desire to bring in two more players.
In late July the Portuguese said he was confident of getting at least one more signing through the door, but hopes have faded as Thursday’s 5pm deadline edged closer.
“I am not confident,” Mourinho said of united’s chance of new signings ahead of Friday’s Premier League opener against Leicester.
“I am not confident, and the market closes today, so it’s time, at least for me, to stop thinking about the market because the market will be closed.
“So I will have to focus on the players I have and in relation to these first couple of matches – maybe three matches because after Spurs (and Burnley on August 27 and September 1 respectively) there is (a) national team (break) and a couple of weeks to recover people and prepare people better.
“I will focus on the players that are available, so I am not even thinking about that list of injured players I gave you, (Nemanja) Matic, (Antonio) Valencia and so on.
“I focus on just what we have, and we go with everything we have to the first match.”
Pushed on whether there would be any ins or outs on Thursday, Mourinho added: “The information I have is no (nothing will happen).”
Mourinho warned last weekend that a “difficult season” could lie ahead if they failed to strengthen the squad before the deadline.
Press Association Sport understands united have been keen to sign a centre-back, but Leicester’s reluctance to sell Harry Maguire looks to have scuppered any move for the England star.
Jerome Boateng was another option but Bayern Munich have not been keen to sanction a loan move. Any deal for Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld was a way off on the eve of the deadline and interest in Barcelona defender Yerry Mina has been tempered up until now by prohibitive financial demands.
Whatever the explanation, the lack of new faces compounds issues surrounding the united squad heading into the Premier League season.
Sergio Romero, Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Dalot, Ander Herrera and Matic are all injured for Leicester’s visit, while Mourinho needs to check on the fitness of those that returned late from the World Cup.
“They returned on Monday,” he said. “They trained Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and today, so you can imagine they are not really fit and ready.
“But we have needs.
“The list that I gave you before of the injured players is an important list and today after training I will speak with that group of players (back from the World Cup) because everybody is different, physically and mentally, to see how available they feel.
“Because it is very important how they feel and to understand how they think they can help or not help.”
Marcus Rashford, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku made slightly early returns so could be involved on
Friday, perhaps helping to boost the mood of a manager who has looked downbeat for much of the summer.
Pre-season has clearly been a frustrating time for Mourinho, while a perceived lack of respect for leading his side to second spot last term has got under his skin.
“My view is that first of all it is difficult for me to believe that we finished second when I listen, when I read – not much but sometimes I do,” the united boss said.
“It is difficult to believe that we finished second because you are capable of making people that finish second look like they were relegated, and people who win nothing, finish below us, and you make them look like serial winners.
“So it’s difficult for me to understand or to feel or to believe that we finished second, which I keep saying that I – and sometimes it’s also difficult to believe – that I won eight championships and three Premier Leagues.
“But I keep saying and thinking and feeling that the second last season was one of my biggest achievements in the game.”
However, the Belgian has acknowledged that his future in Chelsea’s hands. Interest from Madrid has seemingly cooled, while one of his concerns at Chelsea – being stifled by playing under too defensive a manager – has been addressed with the arrival of Sarri.
For his part, the new manager seems convinced Hazard is set to star again for the Blues.
“We have spoken about everything,” Sarri said. “The Hazard problem is not present now.”
The Brazilian forward has linked up with boss Marco Silva again after a £40million move from Watford and should make his Everton debut against Wolves on Saturday.
It is not just on the pitch where Richarlison likes to show off nifty footwork, and he will stick to his social media promise to Everton fans to strut his stuff should he find the net.
The 21-year-old said: “I’m hoping to score my first goal and do the dance that I promised, the pigeon dance, so I look forward to it and it’s good that the fans are waiting for it.”
“Yerry Mina’s a great guy, and he’s also a great dancer,” said Richarlison. “When he played for Palmeiras he’d always celebrate with a dance. We became friends and I speak to him regularly. I’ve not asked him any questions about his future, that’s an issue for his people to deal with.”
Richarlison would also welcome the signing of his countryman Bernard, who is a free agent after leaving Shakhtar Donetsk and is reportedly close to completing a move to Everton.
“Bernard is a great player for the Brazilian national team and I also followed his progress with Atletico Mineiro,” said Richarlison. “I don’t know anything at the moment but, if he were to come here, he’d be very welcome and he would help the team a great deal. And he’s also a great guy.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Richarlison laid out his hopes for the season at Goodison Park.
He said: “I’m really happy to be here at this big club. It was a childhood dream to play in the Premier League and I’m going to give my best for Everton so we can achieve great things. Last season we finished eighth so I think we should be coming higher and have a wonderful Premier League season.
“I’m a calm person. I know my responsibilities but I will show it on the field and with time the fans will see the effort I’m putting in, giving my everything on a day-to-day basis. I intend to work hard, score goals, create assists and help the team in everything I do.”
Richarlison made a superb start to life in the Premier League after swapping Fluminense for Watford, scoring five goals in his first 12 games.
But he did not find the net again for the Hornets, whose season was disrupted by an unwelcome approach from Everton for boss Silva, who was subsequently sacked.
Richarlison believes the relationship can prove fruitful again, saying: “I’m really happy to be working with Marco Silva again, it’s a real pleasure. I’ve always played well under Marco Silva and I get on very well with him.
“He’s a great coach and I understand him. Whenever there’s something I want more information about, something I could do better, I’ll go to his office and we have this dialogue, which helps me on the pitch.”
Much is expected of the young Brazilian, who has been compared by former midfielder Jamie Redknapp to Cristiano Ronaldo.
Richarlison said: “I’m really happy with that comparison but I’m merely Richarlison and obviously Cristiano Ronaldo has achieved so much – Champions Leagues, Premier Leagues, and he’s a great person to model yourself on.”